Saturday, January 12, 2013

...As If it Were Your Last

A lot of time has passed since Marcus Aurelius gave us one of the early variations of the idea that we should

Live not one's life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last

There have been various interpretations of what it means and how one might apply it to one’s life, as another blogger has so elegantly written
“…Reorganize how you think about what you do in regards to what you do.” Thus, there will be not a change in the things you do (except in regards to other advice you might adopt of his), but a change in the way you think about the things you do….
A change in the way you “think” about the things you do…

I wonder how much time we actually spend occupying our minds thinking about the business of living, which tends to be occupied with routine things filling up the seconds and hours and minutes, and which we tend not to think about when we are doing them… I don’t think we think very much about changing the way we think about those routine things we do even when we think we might want too…

What does one think about, after all, when one mops the floor, or washes dishes, or puts clothes in the washing machine… or completes any of the repetitious tasks that fill the day that one doesn’t actually have to think about?

I like to think that I am doing everything as though for the glory of God, because I do want to honor Him with my life, but I don’t always measure up to that high and lofty goal. My mind is often very far away from the task at hand, as Richard frequently points out: when he has to follow behind me (which is often) to finish something because as I have a tendency to wander off before I am quite done.

So, how would we live if we knew it was the last day of our lives?

When all of us woke up on the morning of January 13, 2011, none of thought it would be the last day of our son’s life – least of all him – and he was the one who was poised on stepping out of his physical body and on into eternity.

We knew he was going to die “soon,” but ‘soon” was still a month or so away. Wasn’t it?

He made it very clear that he did not want to know when he was going to die. He did not want to know when it was coming. He wanted it to just “happen.” We figured he would slip into a coma -- either drug-induced to keep him from suffering or as part of the process of his body shutting down -- and that he really would not know.

We knew that January 13 would not be entirely routine, because ultrasound technicians with a mobile unit were scheduled to assess him to see if the doctor could do a palliative procedure to make him more comfortable. So we spent some extra time with him that morning, sitting in the room with him while they moved the probe over his distended belly, trying to figure out where the fluid build up might be, and when they had finished, we walked down to the coffee machine, while the nurses and aides bustled in and gave him his medicine and water and other things, as the news from the technicians (“we aren’t supposed to tell you this, but…”) sank in that there was no fluid, it was all tumor, and they were not going to be able to do anything to help him.

And then we pasted smiles on our faces and helped him set up the laptop computer so he could monitor the E-bay item he was bidding on, and we kissed the top of his head and said “see you this afternoon….” And Richard teased him “….don’t buy anything…” and we left. Assuming that we would follow the usual routine for the day.... returning later in the day to read from a Terry Pratchett novel we were enjoying together and visit.

And about 30 minutes after we left, he left the computer, went into the bathroom, came back to bed, and then he died... suddenly. Right then. He had no idea it was coming. It turned out it was his last day on earth.

It was not our last day on earth though...

and we miss him, and we will go on missing him until it is our last day on earth. And we are still working out how we are going to live as if it were our last...


Susan said...

Wonderful post!! Having experience losing our daughter I relate. But we "knew" that morning it was "today" and we went to her bedside, anointed her with oil, told her how much we loved her and how brave she had been, she mouthed "I love you" back. We are so very grateful for those moments and cling to them. The pain does not go away.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am sure you will grieve for the rest of your life. I cannot imagine how difficult the death of a child is.
Sending good thoughts and a hug your way:)

Cloudia said...

We join you in honoring him.

This is my 'church' for the day.

I love you, bless you; thank you.

Cathy said...

((( HUGS )))
Take care

Donna said...

This is an amazing post, and I will share it on Facebook. Because Cliff and I are pushing 70, we try to live every day as though it were our last, but I forget so often. Most of the time, really.

jen said...

Beautifully said, Sissy. I thought about you all day on Sunday. Love you.